Iraqi Minister Accuses Turkish Forces of Shelling, but Türkiye Representative Insists Terrorist Organization Be Held Responsible
Briefing the Security Council today on the recent attack in Dohuk Governorate in the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq, a senior United Nations official for the country stressed that such an attack on civilians demonstrated a disregard for international humanitarian and human rights law.
Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), briefing the Council, recounted that in the early afternoon of 20 July, five rounds of artillery struck Parkha resort — a well-known tourist destination that was packed with visitors. Nine civilians, including three children, one of whom was a one-year-old infant, were killed and 33 were injured.
“This horrific attack on a well-known and clearly identifiable tourist site demonstrates a shocking disregard for civilian life and for the universally accepted standards of international humanitarian and human rights law which seek to protect civilians,” she stressed. Iraqi officials, after investigating evidence, attributed the attack to Turkish armed forces, she reported, adding that Türkiye’s Government had reached out to the Iraq Government expressing readiness to address the issue jointly with Iraq.
Fouad Hussein, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iraq, welcoming the Council’s 25 July communiqué condemning the 20 July attack, said that the Turkish army had carried out the attack against his country’s territory and civilians. Türkiye has ignored his country’s repeated calls to put an end to its military aggression, he said, calling on Türkiye to withdraw its forces from Ira. He asked the Council to discuss the crime perpetrated by the Turkish army, adding that conflict should be resolved through diplomatic means with mutual cooperation.
The representative of Türkiye, expressing condolences to the people and Government of Iraq, reported that immediately after the attack, his Government was in touch with the Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Governments, ready to take all steps to unveil the truth. However, he stressed that Iraq was being breached by terrorist organizations — not Türkiye. The PKK [Kurdish Workers’ Party] terrorist organization has been present in Iraq since the 1980s, but authorities are unable or unwilling to fight them. Iraq cannot castigate its neighbour for using its right to self-defence, he said.
In the ensuing discussion, Council members united in supporting Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, stressing that attacks against civilians are always unacceptable and prohibited under international law, and calling on all parties to refrain from acts that might destabilize the security of the country.
Ireland’s representative pointed out that the civilians killed in the attack in Dohuk added to the alarmingly high number of civilian casualties caused by the indiscriminate use of explosive weapons. Member States should support the Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas, recently concluded in Geneva. As Iraq has shown continued commitment to enhancing regional dialogue, all actors should engage in constructive dialogue now and refrain from any unilateral, provocative and escalatory actions, he stressed.
Kenya’s representative said Iraq should be protected from becoming an international arena for States and non-State actors to settle scores to the detriment of the security, political stability and socioeconomic progress of the country. Noting that the escalation of violence will only further undermine peace and stability efforts on Iraqi territory, he called on the region and neighbouring countries to support Iraq to build its domestic resilience against terrorist networks.
On that point, the representative of the United Arab Emirates said terrorist groups, including Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as Da’esh, continue to target civilians, security forces and critical infrastructure. The recent attack risked exacerbating political and security challenges, he said, noting that nearly nine months have passed since the holding of parliamentary elections without the formation of a new Government.
India’s representative pointed out that the Council must address some of the concerns outlined in the letter from Iraq’s Minister for Foreign Affairs asserting that Turkish forces committed aggression against Iraqi territories. Relevant parties must abide by international humanitarian law and cooperate with the Government to ensure accountability, he said, adding that a strong, stable and sovereign Iraq would lead to greater security and stability in the region.
China’s representative concurred, underscoring that Iraq stands at a location of strategic importance and should become a booster for regional cooperation — not an arena for geopolitical competitions. Regrettably, foreign troops have repeatedly conducted operations there without the consent of the Iraqi Government. The Iraqi people are writing a new chapter in national reconstruction and regional cooperation, he said, calling on the international community to firmly stand by them.
Brazil’s representative, Council President for July, speaking in his national capacity, noted that the Iraqi people have spearheaded the fight against terrorism. Iraq should be a bridge between countries, cultures and faiths, he said, adding that the Government has worked to foster regional cooperation, including the Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership. There can be no stable Middle East without a safe, sovereign Iraq, he said.
Also speaking were representatives of the United States, Gabon, Norway, Ghana, Mexico, France, Russian Federation, United Kingdom and Albania.
The representatives of Türkiye and Iraq took the floor a second time.
The meeting began at 5:07 p.m. and ended at 6:27 p.m.